Housing secretary’s beautiful words need to be backed by long-term investment

Crop elizabeth hopkirk copy nj

Liverpool’s humiliation at the hands of Unesco shows how much we need highly skilled planning departments, writes Elizabeth Hopkirk

There was a beautiful “did he really say that?” moment when Robert Jenrick launched the new “beauty first” National Planning Policy Framework and design code this week.

The housing secretary was asked by Peter John, former leader of Southwark council, where tall buildings fitted in the government’s Nimby-friendly approach to development. John pointed out what Jenrick had until then neglected to address – that to make housing schemes viable developers usually argue that they need some towers.

The question was answered first by the other panellists at Tuesday’s Policy Exchange and Create Streets event – Nicholas Boys Smith, chair of the new Office for Place, and chief planner Joanna Averley – with points about gentle density and the importance of high-quality public realm.

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